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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 1 April, 2003, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Protesters claim actions justified
Protesters among GM crops
Protesters in a field of GM crops in Sealand
Two women accused of sabotaging genetically-modified crops have told a court they were justified in their actions.

Yvonne Davies, from Carmarthen and Rowan Tilly, from Brighton, both aged 45, claim they were defending the environment and their action were taken in the public interest.

The pair deny charges of unlawfully damaging the crop of GM maize at Birchenfield Farm, in Sealand, Flintshire, north Wales, during a protest in July 2001.

Mold Crown Court heard the defendants were among about 100 protesters at the farm, which was carrying out the crop trial.

Farmer John Cottle was paid 1,000 for growing the crop on his land in a trial conducted under EU directives, the court was told.

I felt that we could all destroy the crop
Yvonne Davies
Ms Tilly told the jury that protesters had hoped to persuade the farmer to lift the plants.

But she said that she later felt that there was no other option other than to damage the crops to prevent the maize flowering and halt the risk of pollen contaminating surrounding land.

Bees could travel up to six miles and pollen could also be carried huge distances in the wind, she added.

"The most immediate risk was cross-pollination," she said in an answer to her barrister, Judy Khan.

Under cross-examination, Ms Tilly denied claims by prosecuting barrister Matthew Dunford that the protest was part of a publicity exercise to draw public attention to the anti-GM cause.

"We did that action to stop contamination," she said.

"If there had been no press there I would still have carried on and done what I did."

Entered field

Co-defendant Yvonne Davies also told the court that she believed that the action she had taken was reasonable in the circumstances.

Ms Davies said she was concerned about the effects of GM contamination and added she had decided to go through a hole in the hedge at Birchenfield Farm when she saw others destroying the crop.

"I accept that I went into the field to break the crops," she said.

"I felt that I wanted to do something about it. I felt that we could all destroy the crop."

Answering her barrister Tania Lewis, Ms Davies said that she felt her actions were reasonable because she was concerned about cross-contamination of surrounding crops via pollution.

The trial continues.

Women deny wrecking GM crop
31 Mar 03  |  Wales
Stop trials call to GM farmer
14 Jul 01  |  Wales
GM crop trials abandoned
09 May 01  |  Wales

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